Golf Resort Tycoon is fun and challenging, as are many offerings from Activision, but it is also an underdeveloped and unfulfilled promise, as one might expect from the "Value Publishing" division of any game company. The title joins the growing trend of titles bearing an excellent concept but sacrificing quality in the name of cost efficiency.
The premise is both simple and complex: develop a resort to please golfers and non-golfers alike. To that end, several tools are available to shape the rough area into a putter's paradise. Five terrain types include forest, autumn forest, desert, mountains and islands, all richly drawn with oceans, volcanoes and similar landscapes to provide lush backgrounds. The land can be shaped easily -- trees cut, land lowered or raised and new flora planted to spruce up the surroundings.
The land isn't the only graphical treat. Golfers are rendered in pleasing but tacky golf clothes and are nicely animated as they toss their clubs in disgust or pose in triumph after draining a tough shot. The little pros are difficult to please and express themselves with easy to understand emotion icons. Also, the buildings are well drawn and can be rotated in four directions for convenient placement.
After enjoying a bird's eye view of the course, you can look at it through the eyes of the golfers. The fly-by camera gives a new 3D perspective to the resort and this option is one of the few amenities developers Cat Daddy Games decided to include in this value title. Hole layout is easy, as well, and while novice players can jump right in, advanced players have fewer customization options available with which to work. Sand and water traps come in several shapes and sizes, none of which can be manipulated more than turning at right angles. The end results are holes with dull, uniform greens and hazards.
Since placing sand and water traps is an integral part to any golf game, special care should have been taken to making construction more fun. Instead, hazards become a pain to the gamer instead of the golfer. Each sand trap has a raised lip that often stops balls from going in, making sunken traps impossible. Worse, traps overlap the green or edge of the fairway rather than mold to the shape of the boundaries, leaving the holes looking shoddy.
Golf Resort Tycoon, in the spirit of RollerCoaster Tycoon, requires the upkeep of the grounds with a skilled staff. The groundskeepers constantly water or mow the holes but tend to follow each other around. Five keepers might be mowing the first hole while hole number three becomes overgrown with weeds. Unfortunately, there is no option to assign a keeper to a certain area.
The gopher exterminators are modeled after Bill Murray's character from Caddyshack, complete with fatigues, goofy hat and dynamite. Get used to hiring dozens of the camouflaged characters since gophers are constantly invading the course. The severity and frequency of the attacks changes the clever nod to a great movie to a game-destroying nuisance.
Golf Resort Tycoon offers a sandbox mode with no goals or time limits, allowing you to develop every technology in the game at your own pace. The challenges are fun but do not unlock more challenges or contribute to a storyline. In fact, challenges are not even marked as successfully finished on the list once completed. There is no great reward other than the act of creating the resort itself.
The sounds are well done as evidenced when duffers' cry in despair after slices and hooks. A solid swing elicits a sweet sounding hit and polite golf clap and the music is varied enough to avoid becoming a distraction. Each building has its own realistic sound, be it the maid from an upscale hotel or the rebounding echo of an intense game of racquetball.
Despite what Activision Value Publishing, Inc. would have you believe, value is not cost effectiveness over quality. Given a few more months of development, Golf Resort Tycoon could have become the satisfying experience promised by the hype on the box. As it stands, the game is worth briefly exploring, despite the small annoyances, but loses its luster when one begins to think of what it could (or should) have been.
Graphics: Viewing perspectives are fun from both high above and through the eyes of resort guests. Graphics are pleasant but not spectacular.
Sound: The sweet sound of golf and the relaxing resort sounds are faithfully reproduced.
Enjoyment: The game is fun for a while until you get good enough to need more customization. Staff is incompetent at times and with no storyline, track of completed challenges or real world courses, the fun factor fades fairly quickly.
Replay Value: After building a full course with all the buildings, there isn't much else to do. The environment choices aren't diverse enough to make courses especially unique in appearance. Challenges do not lead to more challenges or rewards.
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